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AVFD Seeks $350,000 in Capitol Improvement Funds to Co-Own Regional Training Facility

Farmington has asked Avon, Burlington and Plainville fire departments to consider partnering in funding the construction of the new facility, which will likely break ground next year.

The could co-own Farmington’s future regional firefighter training facility if the town gets behind its capital improvement project request of about $350,000.

“We’re asking the Town Council to take serious consideration into our jumping on board with Farmington for the training facility,” Ken Sedlak, president of the volunteer fire department’s Board of Directors, said earlier this week. “They’re looking to break ground next spring.”

Sedlak and Avon Volunteer Fire Chief Michael Trick asked the council members for their support at a regular Town Council meeting at the beginning of September. Sedlak said the opportunity would give Avon firefighters access to a “close-to-home training facility.” If funding were approved, the money would come out of the 2013-14 budget.

“That would be a great investment not only in town, but also for the fire department,” Sedlak said.

Mary Ellen Harper, Farmington director of fire and rescue services, said that Farmington has approached Avon, Burlington and Plainville about co-funding the $1.2 million project. The cost would be divided evenly, she said, and Farmington is looking for a commitment from the three towns by October.

“This about 10 years in the making and it’s finally getting to point that we either have to make commitment to Farmington or we won’t be part of the deal,” Sedlak said.

The Canton Volunteer Fire and EMS Department has also expressed interest about co-ownership. Farmington is only planning on having four towns co-sponsor the facility. However, if Avon, Burlington or Plainville decides not to be a part of it, Harper said that Canton could be a candidate to take the fourth slot.

Avon volunteer firefighters train every week, doing drills such as “ladder throwing” and spraying fire hoses, Sedlak said. But they also travel as far as Wolcott, Torrington or Windsor Locks once a year to do mandatory training that includes extinguishing fires and search and rescue drills. Partial ownership in the regional facility would keep equipment and training closer to home for Avon volunteer firefighters.

“There are things we can’t really do at our facilities in town because of our risk of damaging them,” Sedlak said. “The facility in Farmington would be allowed up to 13 burn days a year.”

Co-owning the Farmington facility would allow the fire department to practice responding to simulated fires more often, he said. Avon's amount of allotted “burn days” would depend on its “percentage of ownership.” 

“The more you train, the more proficient you are at doing tasks,” Sedlak said, noting that it is also a benefit to the “safety of firefighter to do more training.”

Police could likely use the facility as well for SWAT training, Sedlak said.

If the town does not opt to consider the proposal as a capital project, the Avon department will look into grant opportunities and potential in-kind service options, Sedlak said.

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